About Gabriel Vicéns
Described as "a thoughtful improviser with a quiet tone who makes every note count" by Downbeat Magazine and as "an exceptional artist, with a shimmering sense of sonority and the ability to find a keen balance between poetry and intensity" by Latin Jazz Network, Gabriel Vicéns is an internationally acclaimed guitarist, composer, bandleader, visual artist, and educator who works across a wide range of musical expressions. Originally from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Vicéns relocated to New York City after more than a decade of performing and recording with his group and other top artists from the Puerto Rican jazz scene and a four-year professorship at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.
Vicéns has been featured at venues and festivals such as Heineken Jazz Fest in Puerto Rico, SF Jazz Center in San Francisco, Ljubljana Jazz Festival in Slovenia, Uno Jazz San Remo Festival in Italy, and Havana World Music Festival in Cuba. He has worked with artists such as Eddie Gómez, Miguel Zenón, Alex Sipiagin, John Benitez, Paoli Mejias, Luis Perdomo, David Sánchez, and Will Vinson, among others. In New York, he has frequently performed at prominent venues such as The Cell Theater, Cornelia Street Cafe, Birdland Jazz Club, Teatro LATEA, Fat Cat, The Owl Music Parlor, and Terraza 7, both as a leader of his groups and as a sideman.
His debut album "Point In Time," independently released in 2012, features tenor saxophonist David Sánchez and legendary bassist Eddie Gómez who praises Vicéns as "a creative musician that displays a new vision on the guitar." The release gained rave reviews in many jazz publications around the globe. World-renowned jazz critic and writer Bill Milkowski noted in JazzTimes magazine, “Guitarist-composer Gabriel Vicéns, a leading light of Puerto Rico’s jazz scene, flaunts a modernist sensibility on his impressive debut as a leader."
In 2015, Vicéns released his second studio album "Days," on Greg Osby’s influential record label Inner Circle Music. The record was co-produced by trumpet giant Alex Sipiagin, and features Sipiagin himself, David Sánchez, and percussionist Paoli Mejias. The recording also garnered acclaimed reviews including 4 stars in Downbeat magazine and 4.5 stars in All About Jazz by music critic Mark F. Turner who stated, "A rising jazz guitarist... Vicéns has provided a splendid recording that conveys a clear representation of his culture and individuality."
Gabriel Vicéns’ most recent album, "The Way We Are Created,'' released in 2021 on Inner Circle Music, was co-produced by the great Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenón and explores a unique amalgamation of modern jazz with folkloric music from Puerto Rico. The record features some of today's most accomplished musicians in the New York City jazz scene: Roman Filiú on alto saxophone, Glenn Zaleski on piano, Rick Rosato on bass, E.J. Strickland on drums, and Victor Pablo on percussion. Music critic Roger Farbey from the British magazine Jazz Journal noted, “The meticulously constructed compositions benefit from canny arrangements utilising all the instruments in a perfectly balanced formation of tonality and harmonic colour.”
In addition to Vicéns’ releases as a leader, he is co-leader of the free jazz/experimental ensemble, No Base Trio. Formed in collaboration with alto saxophonist Jonathan Suazo and drummer Leonardo Osuna in 2010 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, NBT has released two albums under the radical label Setola di Maiale. Their debut eponymous album was released in 2020 and their second studio album, NBT II, in 2022. Both records received praised reviews in prominent publications such as The Free Jazz Collective, Avant Music News, and Percorsi Musicali. Music critic Paul Acquaro observed, "It will pleasantly surprise you with its mix of melody and exploration."
In 2022, Vicéns went to the studio to record an album of original chamber works including pieces for piano trio, wind quintet, and Pierrot ensemble. The record will feature some of the finest performers in the New York City contemporary classical scene and it’s expected to be released in late 2023/early 2024. This will be Vicéns’ fourth studio album under his name and the first one to feature his work as a composer of contemporary classical music.
Gabriel Vicéns received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Caribbean Music Studies and Performance from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico where he studied with Fernando Mattina and graduated Summa Cum Laude as the first guitarist in the program. In 2017, he earned his Master of Music in Jazz Studies and Performance from Queens College, studying with Paul Bollenback. Between 2019 to 2021, Vicéns studied painting at The Art Students League of New York with renowned color-field painter Pat Lipsky, occasionally assisting her in her studio.
In 2022 he received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Studies and Performance from Stony Brook University under the direction of Ray Anderson. In addition, during his doctorate, Vicéns studied composition and worked closely with Daria Semegen. He dual focused his studies on the exploration of merging modern jazz with Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena, and composing contemporary classical music. Other composition teachers include Carlos Cabrer and Lois V Vierk.
Vicéns is a recipient of the 2023 Chamber Music America "New Jazz Works Grant."
"Complex melodies and intricate rhythms inspired by the Puerto Rican music and dance styles bomba and plena showcase his heritage to dazzling effect."
Julian Maynard-Smith, London Jazz News, 2021
"Blessed with strong, original compositions and a high level of performance, its own unique flavour makes it a very enjoyable listen."
Mikes Gates, UK Vibe, 2021
“We are all born to be creative, he says, and The Way We Are Created is a strong argument in favor.”
Mark Sullivan, All About Jazz, 2021
"The meticulously constructed compositions benefit from canny arrangements utilising all the instruments in a perfectly balanced formation of tonality and harmonic colour."
Roger Farbey, Jazz Journal, 2021
"Gabriel Vicéns is an exceptional artist, with a shimmering sense of sonority and the ability to find a keen balance between poetry and intensity"
Raul Da Gama, Latin Jazz Network, 2017
"A thoughtful improviser with a quiet tone who makes every note count"
Scott Yanow, Downbeat Magazine, 2016
“Guitarist Gabriel Vicens and his crew of Puerto Rican all-stars, turn in one compelling performance on his impressive Days.”
Edward Blanco, All About Jazz, 2015
"A rising jazz guitarist... Vicéns has provided a splendid recording that conveys a clear representation of his culture and individuality"
Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz, 2015
"Point In Time is a full-bodied debut record filled with bright moments, enchanting sounds and thrilling journeys. The Zeitgeist of modern jazz is exhibited through Vicens' work."
Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz, 2012
"Guitarist-composer Gabriel Vicéns, a leading light of Puerto Rico’s jazz scene, flaunts a modernist sensibility on his impressive debut as a leader"
Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times Magazine, 2012